Use Vault to search Google Drive


Vault is for administrators and legal personnel. Vault won't work properly until your G Suite administratorsets up your account. 


Once you create a matter, you can search for files in Google Drive. You can also search for:

Things to know before you search

Before you search, you should understand the following.

How does Vault search for items in Drive?

Vault searches Drive for all items owned by and directly shared with the users specified in your search entry. This includes items in a shared drive that are directly shared with a user, regardless of whether the user is a member of that shared drive. This doesn't include folders or Drive shortcuts.

Can I search shared drives?

Yes, when you search for files in Drive, you have two options:

  • When you're searching for files belonging to specific users or organizational units, you can check a box to include results from their associated shared drives in your search.
  • You can use Vault to find shared drives. You can then search selected shared drives for files.
Which part of files in Drive are searchable?

You can search for words and phrases that occur in file names and in the contents of files. Vault indexes the first 100 pages of text files and the first 10 pages of text in image PDFs.

You can search text within the following file types:

Note: G Suite for Government customers cannot search the contents of files. However, they can search file names and other file properties.

Vault doesn't index video, audio, image, or binary files.

What file types can I preview with Vault for Drive?

You can preview these files:

  • Google files such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings
  • User-uploaded files such as .docx, .pdf, and .xlsx
Linked files may not be included when you search and export files in Drive

Users can link a Google file  to another Google file. For example, someone writing in a Google Doc can create a chart that's linked to data contained in a Google Sheet. Whenever the spreadsheet is updated, the chart in the document is also updated.

When you search files in Drive, Vault returns only the files that match your search criteria. If those files include linked files that fall outside of your query, the linked files aren't included in your results.

Can I search within the revision history of a document?

No. You can search only the most recent version of a file. However, you can enter a version date as part of your search. When you enter a version date, Vault retrieves a snapshot of the file’s contents as of 12:00 AM UTC on the given date. Versioning is supported only in Google Drive for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. 

Some properties are reported for the current version, no matter what version date you specify. These include the title, who it was shared with, when it was last modified, and other data in Vault’s metadata.xml file.

Version snapshots include comments, subject to the following criteria:

  • Open comments are included only if your organization has comment or edit access to the document. Comments aren’t included if you only have view access.
  • An open individual comment (one with no replies) is included if: 1) the comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). A comment isn’t included in versions from before the comment was created.
  • An open comment thread (one with replies) is included in its entirety if: 1) the first comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). For example, if a comment thread has two messages that were created on October 1 and October 5, a search with the version date of October 2 contains both comments even though the October 5 comment didn’t exist at the time.
  • Edited comments are included as they currently exist, not how they were at the version time.
  • Resolved or deleted comments aren’t included in a version, even if the comment was open at the version time.
Can I search the top organizational unit of my organization?

No. You can't search the top organizational unit. Select a child organizational unit or individual users. You can search Drive for up to 5,000 users total (as individual users or members of organizational units).

Search for files in Drive

  1. Create a new matter or click on an existing matter.
  2. Click Search in the left pane, and then click Drive as the type of data to search.
  3. Choose a Source:
    • All data—Search all data in your organization.
    • Held data—Search all data on hold for the matter.
  4. Select a Search method:
    • Specific accounts—Enter one or more accounts and search up to 5,000 Vault users in the domain. The search fails if you attempt to search more than 5,000 users or don't include at least one user. You can also check the box to Include results from shared drives.
    • Organizational unit—Search within a specific organizational unit. If you choose one with sub-organizational units, all of the sub-organizational units will be searched.The organizational unit must have fewer than 5,000 members. You can also check the box to Include results from shared drives​.
    • Shared drives—Click Find shared drives:
      1. Add a shared drive member's email address.
      2. Start typing the name of the shared drive you're looking for, then click the one you want. You can choose multiple shared drives.
  5. (Optional) Enter a date range and choose a time zone.
    • If you enter a start date, Vault returns all files modified on or after the date you entered.
    • If you enter an end date, Vault returns all files modified on or before the date you entered.
  6. (Optional) Use Terms to specify one or more search terms. Use search operators for complex searches.
  7. Vault searches only the latest version of a file. However, you can enter a version date to view and export Google files as they existed on that date. Learn more about what's included in a file's version history.
  8. Click one of the following:
    • Search—to perform a search.
    • Export—to skip preview and immediately export the search results.
  9. (Optional) Click the Search down arrow to:
    1. Reset—to clear the search form.
    2. Duplicate search form—to open another search form under the current form, pre-populated with the information you've already entered.

Preview search results

After you search for files, your results include the title, owner, and last modified date of each document.

Note: There are several known issues related to previewing files in Drive. Learn more.

This table shows how Vault handles different file types.

  Search Preview Export
Google Files





New Sheets

Old Sheets




User-uploaded files


Content (text-based file types only)


Most common file types Yes
Comments Partial No


New Sheets

Old Sheets

Suggested edits No No No
Revision history No No No
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